Monday, May 08, 2006

Beautiful Birds Abound

A couple weeks ago, I invited bloggers to come up with lists of what they considered to be the most beautiful birds. Many responded with lists that included birds that had not occurred to me when I did my own. Here are some who responded:

If I have left anyone off the list, please let me know and I will add your post.

Over thirty people responded to the meme (some by email) and named close to 200 birds, including some from Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. Now that is a lot of beautiful birds! But you might ask if there is any consensus in the birdblogosphere about which birds are most beautiful. Well, good thing you asked, because I have an answer for you. There are two ways of answering the question: one is which birds appeared most frequently on these lists, and the other is which birds consistently appeared near the tops of the lists. First, those mentioned most frequently:
  1. Scarlet Tanager
  2. Baltimore Oriole
  3. Blackburnian Warbler
  4. American Kestrel
  5. Indigo Bunting
  6. Red-headed Woodpecker
  7. Snowy Owl
  8. Painted Bunting
  9. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  10. Prothonotary Warbler
Second, the birds that tended to be placed highest on the lists:
  1. Scarlet Tanager
  2. Blackburnian Warbler
  3. Painted Bunting
  4. Baltimore Oriole
  5. American Kestrel
  6. Indigo Bunting
  7. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  8. Vermillion Flycatcher
  9. Prothonotary Warbler
  10. Common Loon
As you can see, most birds that appear on one list appear on the other, so it would seem that some consensus exists. These lists show a strong North American bias, reflecting the location of most bloggers who took the challenge. There is also a bias towards brightly colorful birds; at least one blogger rebelled against that trend and listed only "little brown jobs." The most popular candidate for most beautiful bird turned out to be the Scarlet Tanager, which for some reason I left off my own list. To remedy that error, I will leave you with a photograph of this stunning species.

Update: Since I first posted this, several people have sent me additional links, which I have been adding to the list above. As I find more, I will update the list from time to time.

Update (5/10): I just added a dozen more links to the list, bringing the total number of respondents to over fifty (including emails and comments). Enjoy the responses.

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